Order of Australia Medal recipients acknowledged and honoured

Dorothy Every, Merv Sharman, Jim Wilson, Noel Schmidt and Gwen Parker with the honour board.

Dorothy Every, Merv Sharman, Jim Wilson, Noel Schmidt and Gwen Parker with the honour board.

Glen Innes Severn’s Order of Australia Medal (OAM) honour board is now glittering with the addition of more gold leaf in six new names of local honour recipients (and one more to come).

Australia Day committee chair Jan Lemon said the honour board had gone astray for several years but she tracked it down in a library storage room, and is now adamant that it will take its place in a prominent position for everyone to acknowledge. She is currently negotiating with council as to what that position will be.

A celebration was held at the William Gardiner Room at the library to unveil the honour board, with newly-listed OAM recipients Dorothy Every, Merv Sharman, Jim Wilson, Noel Schmidt and Gwen Parker in attendance. Past recipients Bill Hughes, Barbara Timmins, Allen Campbell and Ellie Seagrave were on hand to welcome the newcomers to the fold. (Eve Chappell was an apology due to another comittment.)

“It was a really nice ceremony,” Mrs Lemon said.

“Everyone had a few words to say, mostly praising those around them – the team and people they’d worked with – for the honour.”

Mrs Lemon has chaired the committee for the past five years, and has been looking for the honour board all that time. Now that it has resurfaced there will be a celebration each year that Glen Innes Severn has a new OAM recipient.

LATE ADDITION: While the ever-humble Jan Sharman OAM wasn't perturbed at her name's absence from the update to the OAM honour board, Australia Day committee chair Jam Lemon was horrified by the oversight and is quickly making amends.

LATE ADDITION: While the ever-humble Jan Sharman OAM wasn't perturbed at her name's absence from the update to the OAM honour board, Australia Day committee chair Jam Lemon was horrified by the oversight and is quickly making amends.

How could I have missed Jan Sharman?

There was one glaring omission in the Order of Australia additions to the resurfaced honour board, despite Mrs Lemon’s careful research.

The inimitable Jan Sharman received her OAM back in 2013 – the year the honour board went missing – and unfortunately her name didn’t come up during Mrs Lemon’s search of past recipients. To exacerbate the problem Mrs Lemon was overseas at the time and wasn’t around for the big announcement.

Mrs Lemon said she was ‘absolutely devasted’ when Merv Sharman told her, “I think you’ve missed one out”, but it was too late to make immediate amends. 

“It’s Jan Sharman,” she said.

“How could I have missed Jan Sharman?”

Mrs Sharman’s path to AOM glory has been rocky at the best of times. She initially ditched the parliamentary letter advising her of the nomination into the rubbish, thinking it was part of some mass mailing. Only when prompted by nominator Lisa Reed did she go through the rubbish to discover it was a formal request for her to accept the honour.

She also well remembers the pomp and cirumstance of being presented to then-NSW governor-general Marie Bashir to officially receive her medal, not least of which the use of her official name ‘Janice’ making her feel she was in trouble.

While her regret on the day was that her parents and late husband Colin couldn’t be there to share the joy, she also missed the presence of past school teachers who had informed her mother that ‘Janice’ would end up washing dishes.

On sharing this with her official escort for the ceremony, his response was ‘well I’m a headmaster, so you’ve got it off your chest’.

Mrs Sharman’s name will now be added to the bottom of the list on the Glen Innes Severn Council OAM honour board, out of order which somehow seems fitting.

“It will be another talking point,” Mrs Lemon said.

She hopes to unveil the honour board in its new, prominent location in the next few weeks.

Here’s the story from 2013 when Jan Sharman received her OAM:

Start researching your nominee now

Australia Day comittee chair Jan Lemon said to start working on OAM nominations now.

Australia Day comittee chair Jan Lemon said to start working on OAM nominations now.

While nominations for 2018 Order of Australia Medal (OAM) recipients don’t open until October (closing December), Australia Day committee chair Jan Lemon said now is the time to identify a worthy recipient and start gathering information for the nomination form.

She said judging (in which local committee members are not involved) is purely on the information contained on the nomination form, and she often sees glaring omissions in the forms which pass through her hands.

“Anything we know we can’t contribute,” she said.

She said most nominees have been contributing all their lives, often starting alongside like-minded parents.

“People start really young, and have volunteered all their lives.

“Ask family, friends and committee people about the nominee, even the person themselves,” she said.

“You don’t have to keep the nomination a secret from them."

She said many potential nominees will reject the idea of a nomination – deflecting recognition to others – but people shouldn’t be deterred if the nominee deserves to be acknowledged.

She recommended speaking to a wide cross-section of people, including contemporaries who grew up with the nominee and are familiar with contributions of which perhaps even the nominee’s children aren’t aware.

She said there’s a typical life cycle for long-term volunteers, particularly those with a family tradition of helping others.

“They start working with their parents, then there’s the in-between stage as young adults before they have children and become involved in sporting groups and the like. Then when the kids are grown they move onto Lionesses and other community organisations.

“Don’t just rely on what they’re doing now.”

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